RARA-AVIS: The Executioner & the "Men's Action" Sub-Genre

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 13 Feb 2002

Two things occur to me here.

While the Executioner books are, without question, both tough and colloquial, and consequently fair game on this list, Mack Bolan's literary forebears are not really the Spades, Marlowes, Gars, etc., and other denizens of the hardboiled pulp magazines, but a different type of pulp detective altogether.

Specifically, the avenging "Super-Detective" best exemplified by The Shadow, in whose wake followed characters like The Spider, The Phantom Detective, The Moon Man, and The Patent Leather Kid.

Like The Executioner, these characters operated outside the law, inhabiting a dark urban world in which violence was rampant. They made it their business to personal visit justice of a decidedly lethal and illegal type on the criminals they encountered. Pendleton's main contribution was to add a lot of well-researched military technology.

Second, while the Executioner is the father of the
"Men's Action" genre, a transitional figure who could be called the "grandfather" is Nick Carter. Nick's been evertyhting from a Victorian Holmes wanna-be, to a Depression-era hardboiled PI, but in his most recent incarnation, he was a deliberately imitative James Bond clone who starred in nearly 200 espionage novels.
 Some of the writers who've contributed to Nick's saga include Michael Avallone (who actually wrote the first
"Nick Carter - Killmaster" novel RUN SPY RUN, and so, in a sense, may be termed Nick's creator, or at least re-booter), PWA founder Bob Randisi, Edgar-winner Michael Collins, techno-thriller ace David Hagberg, and our own Bill Crider whose first published book was a collaborative Nick novel.


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